Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Blasts at Dahab - Egypt

No, we're not in Egypt, but a good friend of ours is, right in the heart of the last bombings...He's a pretty good observer and not one to loose it over small things. His story follows:

"It's been about 3 hours since the blasts went off. Still shaken up but things are quiet and people around me seem to be calming down. The huge window to my left has been blown out.

I was just getting ready to go out for dinner and was sitting on my bed when the first explosion went, five seconds later another and maybe 2 seconds later another. My eyes were closed and just remember asking for the Lord's protection. I stood up and waited for a moment , then heard people screaming. Went to the window and saw a crowd running away from the boardwalk which is lined with shops and restaurants. Looked around the room to decide what to take , grabbed my napsack and opened my door. My hut is on the roof and 2 huge plumes of smoke greeted me about 50 metres
away, the scene of the 2nd and 3rd explosions. Looked down into the courtyard and people were frantically running through the camp in an effort to get away from the

Ran down the stairs and tried to listen to what people were saying. Some had blood on their clothing ,people were crying and everyone was in shock. I was thinking bomb at that moment but I also hoped that maybe a gas cylinder or something exploded. When I saw the Egyptians who work at our camp running and screaming I thought to myself ,"You need to get out of here now".

Dahab is so isolated though , there's nowhere to go except out into the desert. Decided to stay put , others were rushing to the scene but I learned a very important lesson from terrorists bombings in South Africa during the 70's and 80's , never flock to a bombing scene. If terrorists are looking to maximise casualties then another bomb near the scene is waiting to explode.

All the foreigners were now grouped together in the courtyard. Standing amongst them I thought to myself that if I was a suicide bomber that this is exactly where I'd be , so I moved away. An Egyptian guy walked up to me with a confrontational frown and asked me what my room number was. I realised how suspicious I looked with my complexion , carrying a knapsack and wearing a shirt with Hebrew writing on it. Tried the internet but the lines were down , didn't have a phonecard and still refuse to carry a cellphone so couldn't call anyone.

An Israeli guy shouted if anyone was from Israel , he was planning on heading out immediately back to the border. I went to stand next to him to find out what he saw. He was in a restaurant on the first floor of the building next to the blasts. He said he saw at least 2 people lying on the ground after the bang and the white light. 2 other Israelis were with him , one of them had a grandmother killed in the suicide
bombing in Tel Aviv a week ago. Thought about mobs wanting to take out their anger on someone and moved away from them and turned my shirt inside out. Loud music from the shops and restaurants were shut off and the only regular sound was the call to prayer from the mosque. Thought that was quite ominous really since fundamentalism had struck again.

Two guys were wounded in the camp and they were carted away , one was bleeding badly but he was conscious. Finally I ventured up to the entrance of the camp and looked at the damage. Things were cordoned off by now and I decided to walk down the promenade in the opposite direction. Came to my favourite restaurant with the owner and his staff and family standing outside. Stopped to see how he was holding up. He rushed out after the explosions to check on his 4 kids who usually play outside. I was just talking to him the night before while paying my bill about them. Once he knew they were safe he went to the bombing site. He told me that he thought he could handle it but he ended up throwing up at what he saw. Body parts were strewn all over the place. While we were chatting an Italian lady came by looking for her son , she was
beside herself and kept muttering that Tarriek was dead. The restaurant owner told me that she was married to an Egyptian , I hope that wasn't her son.

I wondered off to the rest of the promenade , few shops or restaurants were open. Flickering lights across the Gulf of Aqaba from Saudi Arabia can be seen , wondered
if Al Qaida had anyting to do with this. I hadn't eaten for the day yet but found a store open near my camp , the window was also shattered by the blast. Back at the camp now , roads around Dahab have been sealed off , nobody's is going anywhere tonight.

Might as well stay put and get some sleep."

Be safe!

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